From Christmas to the “Old” New Year

People of Eastern European descent are blessed with a double number of holidays.

Of course, we celebrate all local holidays, but due to huge influence of Julian calendar that was adhered to by Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians in the past; we keep celebrating the same holidays twice, finishing it on January 13th. Add to this Hanukkah and you get more than a month of festivities!

The main attraction during holidays is food. In Russia with its cold climate it’s a meats cornucopia on a table. From cold cuts to sausages to roasted goose stuffed with apples and delicious home-made sauerkraut on the side. In Greece in addition to traditional lamb you adore unparalleled sweets, like melomakarons and finish with sweet breads. In Ukraine you start with a special grain dish “Kut’ja” made of wheat groats with honey and poppy seeds, after which you enjoy up to 12 vegetable and fish dishes before meat ones! In Romania dinner table decorated with varieties of sausages and of course gingerbreads. 

One dish unites all the Eastern European cultures: Cabbage rolls! Even if they name that dish differently, and even in some instances people instead of cabbage use grape leaves (dolma), the essence of the dish stays the same. It is delicious, easy to make, but time consuming:  You need 15 pre-boiled (you can buy them in jars as well) cabbage leaves. Stuffing: Mix 1 kg of ground beef, 1 sautéed onion, I cup of boiled rice, salt, and pepper. Place ½ cup of stuffing on a thicker part of the leaf and roll leaf up and over the filling. Stuck cabbage rolls tightly in a pot. Top it with a sauce [3 cups of water, sautéed onion and carrot (one of each), 4tbsp of tomato paste, salt, pepper, 3 bay leaves]. Cook on medium/low heat for 1 hour. 

Oh, and did we mention Poppy-seed Rolls, black and red caviar? Never mind – it is for the next article.